We have all been spending a lot of time indoors this past year and it has probably caused you to take into account your surroundings more than you have done in the past.
Being restricted to your home with the occasional grocery store run is a lot less environmental diversity than we are used to. That means the spaces we are spending most of our time in are making a greater impact on our mental health.
Like the people you surround yourself with, the spaces around you also affect you subconsciously. We want people to have the best environments for their work and personal life so they can be as productive and healthy as possible.
You Deserve a Clean Home
“Cluttered room, cluttered mind” sounds like pseudoscience, but it’s actually true. When the space around you is in chaos, your emotions change to match it. If your home or office (currently the same thing for most people) is clean and organized, it’s easier to focus and calm your mind.
You also remove the potential guilt of looking around at your space and seeing a mess. It is never helpful to combine the feeling of guilt with the stress of all the tasks you need to accomplish in a day.
In fact, this clutter causes our anxiety to rise and can create overwhelm. Prevent that by intentionally creating 10-minute time blocks of decluttering as part of your self-care practice.
You may already find that you habitually clean a room before you need to buckle down and focus on a task. This action of cleaning is a great way to work through and process any disorganization within your thoughts and remove distractions.
Light it Up
Light plays a big factor in our emotional state. Natural light specifically can increase your serotonin which in turn decreases anxiety.
A study in 2016 showed that increased natural light improved the attitude and overall emotional state of employees. Conversely, overexposure to artificial light, like from electronics, can increase stress and go as far as disrupting your sleep cycle.
To boost your mood, try to set up your workspace near a window. You can also increase the natural light in your room by adding mirrors that reflect and maximize the light that is available.
We are extremely thankful that Spring Daylight Saving Time is here to give us more natural light in our day. Make sure you take advantage of it! Try to get outside for a 15-minute walk or plan for some time outdoors after your workday or on your lunch break.
Get Some Sleep
Our society does a really good job of downplaying the importance of sleep, but we know better. Adults should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Remember that any source of light will inhibit your ability to fall and stay asleep. Invest in some blackout curtains, make sure your phone is face down or on do not disturb so it isn’t lighting up in the middle of the night. The goal should be for your room to be as dark as possible.
The change in light to dark is a signal to your circadian rhythm to tell your body to start producing melatonin, the sleep hormone. Creating as consistent of a sleep pattern as possible is also optimal. You cannot truly “catch up on sleep” by sleeping more the night after you have had too little. Setting a rhythm is the important part.
What you See is What You Get
Speaking of getting outdoors, you can also create space to improve your mental health by just using images of the views you see through windows, art you enjoy, or places you’d like to visit. Adding family photos is not just for sentiment either. When you look at an image of your family or loved ones, maybe on vacation, you can remember the happy memories attached.
Though plants have become a more recent trend, they have been beneficial indoors for a long time. Having plants to look at can mimic the feeling of walking through a forest or admiring flowers – without having to leave your workspace or home. This strategy was affirmed in a study conducted in 2015.
Why It’s Important
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs points to our home and work environment being at the base of our requirements for a fulfilled life. When people don’t have a solid foundation, they can never grow to soar. That starts in the home and with the mind. So hopefully you take this advice and open a window or buy your first house plant.
At Victor, from our employees to our clients, we want people to have safe spaces to empower them to grow and thrive. Treatment and education are two of the ways we lift others up. If you are interested in helping others, we invite you to explore our current career opportunities by clicking the link below.